Who would’ve thought that manipulating time would forge some of the great love stories? Whether it’s found within the chivalry of gentlemanly past or the future of civilization, cinema has shown that love has no bounds – even if it means traveling through time to get it. Where it may be a common trope for the sci-fi genre, romance flicks have also surprisingly used it to their advantage.
From classic rom-coms like 13 Going on 30 and The Lake Houseto more hidden gems like If Only – these movies use the phenomenon of time travel to intertwine greater levels of fantasy and magic. No only does this increase the overall cinematic experience, they also make the love stories incredibly epic.
‘About Time’ (2013)
Life changed forever when Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) turned 21 as his father revealed an odd hereditary trait; all the men in their family have the ability to time travel. Though initially shocked, Tim decides to use his skill to alter his past to improve his future. His main goal – bolster his love life and win the heart of Mary (Rachel McAdams).
With a clever concept, beautiful script and a great cast, this poignant movie is one that masterfully tackles the topics of love, redemption, and loss. Where Gleeson and McAdams’ chemistry is incredibly sweet, About Time is a more than a simple romantic story. It uses time to talk about the importance of living in the moment and the consequences of one’s choices.
‘Midnight in Paris’ (2011)
Whilst on a holiday in Paris with his fiancé and her family, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) – a screenwriter and aspiring author – develops a habit of touring the city alone. One night he finds himself swept back in time to the 1920s where he meets his favorite cultural and artistic icons. By experiencing life in the past, he is forced to confront his dissatisfactions of the present.
As a romance movie, Midnight in Parisoffers multiple romantic interests, each with their own qualities and individual purposes. From Inez’s (McAdams) 21st century realism, to Adriana’s (Marion Cotillard) 1920s romanticized attitude to life, Gil is forced to reflect on what kind of love will give him true happiness. He’ll even come to terms about the dangers of escapism.
‘The Lake House’ (2006)
As lonely doctor, Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock), moves out of her beloved lake house, she begins to exchange letters with its newest resident, a frustrated architect named Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves). The two instantly spark a connection and form a budding romance. The only problem – she’s living in the year 2006, whereas he’s in 2004.
An epic love story where two are separated by time, this romantic flick is special in the way that they portray the simplicities of intimacy. With only the written word to connect, Kate and Alex’s closeness is unlike any other. They need not rely on physical attraction or physical needs, they’re brought together by a deeper connection – one built on stories, soul and emotions.
‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ (2009)
Henry Detamble (Eric Bana) is a librarian from Chicago who struggles with his rare genetic disorder that causes him to randomly travel through time, uncontrollably. His life becomes more complex when he meets and marries the love of his life, Claire (McAdams), as she must now learn to cope with her husband’s condition.
An interesting spin on star-crossed lovers,The Time Traveler’s Wifecaptures the struggles of fated love. Where Henry and Claire’s story is romantic and tender, it’s also incredibly bittersweet. With Henry’s condition, fans (as well as Claire) are never sure of when he’ll disappear. So when he does on occasions like their wedding, the heartbreak and tension is palpable. Their love story may be unconventional, but there’s a beauty to it.
’13 Going On 30′ (2004)
After being humiliated at her 13th birthday, Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) wishes to escape her life of pre-teen unpopularity and become a well-adjusted grownup. She’s shocked when she wakes up to find her wish had come true; somehow Jenna (Jennifer Garner) is now 30 and living in 2004. Soon she realizes how adulthood has its own set of struggles – one particularly being her love life.
As an iconic 2000s rom-com, 13 Going on 30 has warmed fans’ hearts for decades. Largely driven by Garner’s bubbly innocence, Jenna’s connection with Matt (Mark Ruffalo) is undeniably pure and one of the great depictions of friends-to-lovers. This movie also uses time travel put forth the message of how time is precious; by choosing to only look towards the future, one would never absorb the milestones of the present.
‘Back to the Future Part III’ (1990)
As the third and final chapter to their adventures, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) must travel back in time to 1885 to the Old West to save his friend, Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), from his impending murder. Matters become more complicated when Marty realizes that Doc has fallen deeply in love with local school teacher, Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen).
Though not a typical romance movie, Back to the Future Part IIIis a film spearheaded by the themes of love. Where there are romantic storylines in the previous installments, Doc and Clara’s is a breath of fresh air – mostly because Doc is a character that’s so determined to avoid the supposed banalities of love. And yet, here he is, willing to be stuck in a foreign time period for the sake of love, happiness and true companionship.
‘When We First Met’ (2018)
Having been friend-zoned by the girl of his dreams after meeting her in a Halloween party, Noah (Adam DeVine) remains close to Avery (Alexandra Daddario). 3 years later, she’s now engaged to someone else. Suddenly, Noah stumbles on the opportunity to travel back in time to moment they met, giving him the chance to alter his life, and get the girl.
In an almost Groundhog Dayscenario (and it’s worth noting that film is a benchmark for romantic time-travel film), When We First Met is a humorous film that’s filled with charm and charisma thanks to the talents of the cast, especially in the case of DeVine. Where the romantic connection is present between characters, it isn’t with whom you’d naturally expect as this is a classic tale that teaches audiences that everything happens for a reason.
‘Kate & Leopold’ (2001)
Kate (And Ryan) is a 21st century woman who’s determined to focus on her career, that is until she meets Leopold (Hugh Jackman), an English Duke from the 19th century who’s accidently brought to the future via a portal made by her ex-boyfriend, Stuart (Liev Schreiber).
Where Kate & Leopold may be cheesy at times with the classic fish-out-of water tropes, this movieis an underrated feel-good romance that will easily keep one warm and cozy. With the script’s quick wit and fun character dynamics, this twisted modern day fairytale shows how love doesn’t always come to us in the most expected ways.
‘If Only’ (2004)
Struck with grief after the sudden loss of his girlfriend Samantha (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Ian (Paul Nicholls) is given the opportunity to relive the day she died and rewrite his wrongdoings, allowing him to become a better partner and fix things before the impending tragedy.
Despite being an emotional and bittersweet tale, If Only is filled with hope and true love. It sends a message to viewers about how important it is to treasure every moment, every milestone, and to treat every day as if it were your last. With the palpable chemistry between Hewitt and Nicholls, fans will be moved by their devotion towards each other, even until the film’s final bittersweet twist.
‘Somewhere in Time’ (1980)
Enamored and infatuated by a vintage portrait that hangs in a grand hotel, playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) finds a way to travel through time to 1912 to meet Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), a stage actress. Where the two seem destined to be together, conflicts arise when Elise’s obsessive manager, William (Christopher Plummer), tries to stop them.
A great movie that’s severely slept on, Somewhere in Time tells the story of an unworldly and impossible love. With a brilliant concept and beautiful chemistry between Reeves and Seymour, this movie is one for the romantics and dreamers. It shows the sheer lengths someone is willing to go to find their soulmate – even if it means going through time itself.
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